CUTmodern is a proud contributor to LAB and we’re excited to continue sharing our stories with this independent designer community. At CUTmodern we think we live in pretty interesting times, where some of the best products are designed and produced by creative local artists. Our site is built around that single concept, where we advocate for small independent designers who create high quality modern pieces for the home.
We support products that last generations, and we’re teaming up with a group of brilliant designers to help tell the story behind their designs while making a difference by reducing the environmental and social impact through the products we sell. Behind the Design is an ongoing series on LAB and the CUTmodern blog. The goal is to tell the story of the person behind the incredible designs found on our site. We hope you enjoy the stories we share in this weekly Behind the Design series on LAB. Today we sit down with Nicole Hodsdon of Ciseal Furniture Crafters.
:: How did you get into design of furniture / home goods? How did you go about learning the skills?
I started out my professional life as an engineer, and I did not enjoy it one bit. I had no idea what I wanted to do instead, but I started to gravitate towards design after multiple unsuccessful furniture shopping trips. I just couldn’t find the style I liked, with the quality I wanted, and for a price I could afford. So, I set out to design and build my own – in spite of only having a couple of art classes under my belt and not having much woodworking experience at all. With the help of my brother-in-law, we built a shelving unit that had been an idea in my head for years. You could say that was the spark.
I started exploring art and design a bit more and eventually amassed a portfolio that got me into the College for Creative Studies in Detroit to study Product Design. While there, I took a woodworking class where we designed and built a bent plywood piece over the course of the semester. It was my absolute favorite class while at CCS. I even took the class again the next year, and I have been designing and building bent plywood things ever since.
:: How long does your design process typically take?
My design process usually starts with having an idea for a piece – and that can happen anytime or anywhere. I’ve gotten ideas while looking through magazines, shopping, snowboarding, walking the dogs – just a shape will jump out at me and triggers this thought that it would make a good chair or bench.
I’ll make a quick sketch and add it to what has become a pretty sizable library of potential pieces that are just waiting for an opportunity to be produced. When it comes time to make one of these pieces, it’s about a two week process to make paper models, veneer models, full-size prototypes, and finally a 3D model on the computer to get the design just right.
[Side note: check out the video we recently posted showing how Ciseal makes bent plywood furniture]
:: What piece of work are you most proud of?
My very first bent ply piece – the lounge chair. Not only did it start me on this path, but it’s turned out to be an ever-evolving design. The original sketches looked similar to the final product, but through the design process I was able to refine and enhance the design so that I could actually make it within my budget and complete it during a busy semester. Even today, I’m continuing to refine the design to make it even more beautiful, comfortable or easier to make. That’s what I love about this piece – it’s constantly evolving.
:: What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I like to run, and I love running in races – especially half marathons. I also love snow, and when it’s too deep to run in it, I like to snowboard and snowshoe. My two dogs (a Rottweiler mix and a Heintz 57 shepherd mix) are usually my constant companions on our daily walks come rain or shine and they’re also my cuddle companions when its time to wind down for the night. I’m also the go-to mixologist for any gathering with family or friends – making fun and delicious drinks is my specialty.
:: What would you do if you weren’t an artist/designer?
Well, I know for sure that I could never go back to engineering and maintain any sort of sanity! If I had to do something else I might be a dog trainer, a photographer, or maybe I’d become a mountain bum and be a snowboard instructor or a park ranger.
:: What are some of your favorite blogs or design resources (aside from the CUTmodern blog, of course!)?
Design Milk is great for staying current on what’s going on in the design world, and I love when they do their day in the life of a designer posts. I love Apartment Therapy because its full of great ideas. Houzz is cool because you can see what’s current and how people apply trends to real life. I like perusing Pinterest because of the mix of high-end designs, vintage finds, and DIY options. The Chair Blog is great because it highlights so many unusual ideas.
:: Are you digital? If so, where can we find you?
I really should be more consistent with Tweeting, but I’m a lot better at Pinning lots of stuff – especially furniture!
Twitter @nhodsdon | Pinterest khumbu77
Check out the work of Ciseal Furniture Crafters’ Nicole Hodsdon on the CUTmodern site.